HHS, CDC says U.S. vaccination rates remain low for adults

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently gave a telebriefing on low adult vaccination rates in the United States.

Dr. Howard Koh, the assistant secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services, told listeners that too few adults are being vaccinated against serious illnesses, such as whooping cough and shingles.

"While we are seeing some modest gains in the coverage for two vaccines, particularly Tdap, that covers tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and also human papilloma virus vaccine," Koh said. "In general too few adults are taking advantage of the protection from vaccines leaving themselves and those around them at greater risk of vaccine-preventable diseases."

The assistant secretary stressed that it is important to send the message that stopping vaccine-preventable diseases is critical to the future of our country because they take a serious toll on society.

Dr. Carolyn Bridges from the CDC then presented data on the vaccine uptake levels for pneumococcal vaccine, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles or zoster vaccine, the HPV vaccine, and the tetanus vaccine that includes the Tdap.

"I'd like to take a few moments to put these numbers in perspective," Bridges said. "While we are pleased to see any increase in adults getting their recommended vaccines, these numbers remain low overall. We have made little progress, and improving adult coverage from 2010 to 2011 and racial and ethnic disparities in coverage remains. These data highlight the need for continuing effort to increase the number of adults to get their recommended vaccines. "

The data Bridges shared came from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the CDC.